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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.



March 31, 2011 at 2:45 PM

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Golden Tate: By the numbers

Posted by Danny O'Neil

There was no more puzzling rookie on Seattle's team last season than receiver Golden Tate. Over the offseason, he looked ready to make an immediate impact, and despite his height he was one of Seattle's more dangerous receivers in going up and getting the ball.

And then the regular season came and he was not active for the first game, a healthy scratch. It was characterized as a wake-up call. A reminder that the rookie still had some work to do on the basic fundamentals.

In Denver for Week 2, Tate showed his big-play potential with a 62-yard punt return and a 52-yard reception. It was characterized as his coming-out party. Turned out it was the high point of a rookie season in which Tate was eclipsed by midseason addition Brandon Stokley.

Beginning today and carrying over to next week, we will look at two things with regard to Tate:

1) How did Tate's rookie season rate? Now, divorce yourself from the training-camp projections for Tate specifically. We're talking about rookie receivers in general and specifically those taken in the second round.

2) What kind of an indicator has this type of rookie season been for a receiver? The New York Giants' Steve Smith is someone who bounced back from a sub-par rookie year to become a critical factor, but is that the norm? What kind of progression should be expected from Tate next year?

This much is clear: The Seahawks expect a major improvement from Tate. Coach Pete Carroll made that clear after the season ended.

"He's got a huge upside. I think he's a fantastically natural football player. He's got competitiveness about him, he's got play-making in him and I wish it would have come more to the front this year. That's a big project for us. We need to bring him out."
     -- Pete Carroll on Golden Tate, Jan. 19, 2011

Reciver is typically described as one of the more difficult positions for a rookie to step in right away. Just ask a Lions fan how problematic it is to project greatness from a rookie receiver.

So the first question is just how bad was Tate's rookie season? And truthfully, it wasn't as awful as many have described. He was one of three receivers drafted in the second round in 2010, none of which caught more than 25 passes last season.

Tate's regular-season statistics: 21 catches for 227 yards, an average of 10.8 yards per catch. He did not score a touchdown.

In the past four drafts, there were 17 wide receivers chosen in second round. Nine of them finished their rookie season with fewer receptions than Tate's 21. Here's a look at the average production of those receivers drafted in the second round from 2000-2010:

 
Year
WRs chosen
in second round
 
Average Rec.
 
Average Yds.
Average
per catch
 
Average TDs
Golden Tate 2122710.80
2010*2*23*302*12.9*1.5*
2009220.536516.71.5
20081027.3322.38.61.4
2007315177.310.91.3
2006321269.710.22
2005516.8208.812.61
2004326379.79.52
2003434.548013.93.8
2002834.142112.92.8
2001426.541111.12.5
2000316.720311.60
Total4725.4330.211.31.8
*2010 averages do not include Golden Tate.

 
So what does that tell us? It tells us that Tate's rookie season wasn't that far below what is to be expected for a second-round pick.

But that's only the start of our analysis because scrutinizing what Tate did and how that compares doesn't tell us anything about what he's going to do. The Seahawks certainly have great expectations for Tate next year, and by looking back at the average projection of other receivers from their rookie seasons, it's possible to tell just how realistic Seattle's expectations are.

We'll pick up that analysis next week.

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